This week in Magic: Happy New Year!

2015 Happy New Year Strands Line Glow Dark Background

Welcome to the first “This week in Magic” of the new year. Now that we’re in 2015, we can finally look forward to the PPTQ being held at the Abington store on January 11. Hopefully you and your friends have been practicing and feel ready to go. If not let me offer some advice and insight as to what you may see at the PPTQ.


Since the introduction of Khans into the Standard format, we’ve been lucky to have a healthy dosage of variety. No longer are the days of Mono Black dominating the format. You can have your choice of any of the five clans.



This is probably the clan I am most familiar with. I started the new Standard format playing Jeskai Tempo. This was the most popular deck at the time. It packed some of the most mana efficient creatures in the format with Goblin Rabblemaster and Mantis Rider making the cut. However, the deck would see some changes over time trying to find its true identity. Soon, combo versions would make their way into the format via the first Pro Tour bearing the name Khans of Tarkir. There we would finally see the Jeskai Ascendancy deck people had been murmuring about. It was a slightly crazy concept, but proved to be powerful nonetheless.


That leads us to the latest version of the deck. I remember when I first played the Jeskai Tokens deck. Everything about the deck felt so right. In a way, it made perfect sense why certain cards were designed. The amazing synergy between Hordeling Outburst, Jeskai Ascendancy, and Stoke the Flames is one of the most powerful interactions in the game I’ve ever seen.


Thanks to the extreme popularity of “Whip” decks, Jeskai Token players have had to restructure their plans. How have they done this? MTGO results have shown that players have reverted back to the original Jeskai Tempo build which contains more midrange and control elements.



The emergence of “Whip” decks have seemed to taken over the format. However, this is a little different from when Mono Black dominated the format. Mono Black dominated the format due to the overall strength of the deck. “Whip” decks have taken over due to their overall popularity. The deck is just fun to play.


The Sultai version of the deck utilizes the Sultai leader, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. As a 3/3 for four mana, it’s okay. However, it’s abilities to mill your deck and make a zombie token are great bonuses. More milling means more problems for your opponent. You want to see things like Doomwake Giant and Hornet Queen make their way into the bin. When the Whip does make it’s way out, things become a lot more difficult for your opponent.


If Sultai is not your thing, you can always look at the Golgari version of “Whip” decks. In this version of the deck, Sidisi is replaced for a much more stable mana base as well as Pharika. Although, I have seen some versions pack both Pharika and Sidisi into the deck. It may be a little greedy, but with their powers combined, anything is possible.



There are two directions you can go with Abzan. You can either go the aggro route, or you can go the midrange path. However, looking at most of the lists, there is very little difference between the two. The standout card is Heir of the Wilds. The two drop is there to help get the party started a little bit earlier than expected. The midrange tactic, though, is the most popular and, in my opinion, the better option of the two.


Let me start by saying that Anafenza is one of those creatures that, when she hits the table, make you say, “Ugh.” Sitting at 4/4 for three mana, she is out of Lightning Strike range. So now we have to look to hard creature destruction to take care of her. Also, as a 4/4 she’s a lot larger than most creatures and can definitely take care of herself. Things get even worse if you were able to land a Fleecemane Lion or Rakshasa Deathdealer on the board before she came down onto the battlefield.


Of course, we can’t forget everyone’s favorite rhino, Sige Rhino. This guy is such a beast that he’s even making his way into the Modern format and even redefining on the most powerful decks in the format, Birthing Pod. It’s a 4/5 for four mana and casting it alone causes a six point life swing. Did I mention that it has trample? That is something you don’t want to forget, especially if you through a goblin token in front of it hoping to “chump” block it.


With some of the best removal spells at it’s disposal, there is no wonder why this deck is at the top of the game right now.



Some people call it control and others like to call it midrange. Either way you see it, Mardu competes just like the rest of the field. This is the only deck in the format that is able to utilize, what I think, is one of the best removal spells right now. Crackling Doom is probably your best bet and answer to deal with Sylvan Caryatid. A turn two Caryatid typically means your opponent is setting up for something, and if they’re not, they at least have a solid defense blocking your way. Crackling Doom not only deals your opponent two damage, but it gets rid of that pesky 0/3.


I think Butcher of the Horde doesn’t get enough credit in the format. I mean, it is a 5/4 for four mana. If you’ve got a token or two free, you can make your Butcher gain haste, lifelink, or vigilance. Obviously, swinging for five damage of turn four is pretty nice, but the possibility of gaining life at the same time can be devastating.


Mardu is also one of the only decks in the format that uses multiple planeswalkers. What’s so important about this? Consdering that most of the other “top tier” decks in the format either use one or no planeswalkers, Heroic Downfall has been on the decline. That means that it’s a lot safer to play your Sarkhans or Sorins with little fear that they’ll fall victim to this one-for-one.



Out of all the clans, I feel that Temur is the weakest one. However, that means it has the most potential to grow. While the addition of Blue hasn’t caught on to many players, there are those who have just stuck to playing Red/Green. Keep in mind, I talked about Anafenza being a problem when she hits the board as a 4/4 for only three mana. A similar creature is Savage Knuckleblade. However, this creature is a lot more nimble than Anafenza. In fact, Savage Knuckleblade is so versatile that it has even snuck it’s way into Modern.


In a format that is being dominated by creature based decks, Temur still stands a chance in the format. With this deck, you just want to land the biggest and baddest creatures onto the battlefield. Don’t worry if your opponent has creatures too. Your team is poised to be superior in the long run. Also, don’t forget about the Ferocious mechanic. This mechanic rewards you for controlling some of the biggest monsters in the game. So look to cards like Crater’s Claws and Stubborn Denial to give you a sleight advantage.


It may not be the top dog right now, but we have Fate Reforged to look forward to. Some of the preview cards have already shown the emergence of the dragons we knew were going to be in the set. It shouldn’t be long until one of those dragons is the right fit for this clan. That’s when we can stop calling it R/G Monsters and start calling it Temur Monsters.


About the author

Simeon is now the Community Manager for Battleground Games & Hobbies. If you have any questions or inquiries, then you can reach him at He is also an avid gamer who loves to play board games and video games. He graduated college with a degree in Political Science, and now serves the public by writing about games. You can check that out here. Don’t forget to “like” him on Facebook as well. It’ll update you on all of his newest content. Best of all, you can follow Simeon on Twitter (@SimeonCortezano) for some real time hilarity. Thanks for reading!

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